How to Protect Your Car Dealerships from Natural Disasters

11.09.21

how to protect your car dealerships from natural disasters

Car dealerships are a unique business. Whether they specialize in new or used vehicles, these businesses put their valuable assets out in the open, accessible to customers, accidents, and inclement weather. This scenario seems like a disaster waiting to happen — and in some cases, it is. 

As a car dealership owner, you know how important it is to protect the vehicles in your inventory. Selling the cars, trucks, and SUVs on your lot is what makes a living for you and your employees. But what can you do when a natural disaster is looming on the horizon, threatening the risk of damaged inventory? 

Continue reading to understand the importance of preparing for natural disasters in the auto industry and how to do it the right way. 

protect car dealership inventory

Importance of Protecting Car Dealership Inventory

Protecting car inventory from natural disasters is one of the most important things you can do as a car dealership owner. It all starts with understanding why this level of protection matters. 

1. The Inevitability of Natural Disasters

Depending on the dealership location, weather conditions can be fickle and lead to dangerous situations, including the following:

  • Hurricanes
  • Floods
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Fires

These events are often unavoidable, and protecting your valuable assets from them may seem like a difficult task. Losing these assets to natural disasters could cause damage to your business beyond repair.

This risk is why you should view natural disasters as inevitable. The weather could be beautiful for days or weeks in a row, but when you least expect it, a tree could come crashing down on your assets, or hail the size of golf balls could shatter windshields and create dents.

Plan now and take steps to protect your assets as if a great storm were heading straight for your dealership. When disaster does strike, you'll have already made some preparations to protect your capital investments. Catastrophic weather is unpredicatable, so mitigate the risk of damage and protect your vehicles now to stay one step ahead of it.

2. Personal Safety

Natural disasters are a threat to more than your physical assets — they're a threat to your safety and the safety of your employees. You and your employees are the forces that drive your car dealership toward success. Everyone's safety is paramount to the operation of your car dealership, so use the opportunity of protecting your inventory to protect you and your employees as well.

Often times, asset protection can lead to personal protection. When you put on the mindset of asset protection, you'll take measures that could lead to the safety of your entire facility. A proper emergency action plan includes measures to protect your assets and your personnel, who are your greatest assets of all. Conduct yourself in a way that prepares your auto dealership for emergencies to be in a better position for personal safety.

3. Business Continuity

As a car dealership, your goal is to be open for business as often as possible so you can connect with customers and land some profitable sales. Preparing your car inventory for natural disasters can help you achieve this goal. Businesses of all sizes have overhead costs connected to staying in business. Closing your doors for an extended period can be detrimental to your ability to keep your doors open.

Vehicle damage from a natural disaster is one of the top reasons you'd have to put out the "closed" sign on your car dealership during regular business hours. Severe hail storms, snowfall, and debris from heavy winds can all put you in a position where you have to shut down your business to recover. People will avoid car dealerships with damaged or inaccessible vehicles, so you should do everything to protect your inventory from suffering from these events.

Protecting your inventory now means you'll be able to keep your doors open and understand your immediate risks in the face of a natural disaster. You can judge the severity of the situation and know what preparations you should make in light of your existing precautions. You'll be able to get back to work sooner after the emergency has subsided — a time known as the "recovery process."

4. An Easier Recovery Process

The recovery process for an auto dealership after a natural disaster can include the following steps:

  • Filing insurance claims and receiving payments for damaged inventory
  • Repairing and restocking damaged vehicles
  • Repairing damaged structures and sections of the parking lot
  • Clearing rubble and debris
  • Pending restoration of electricity

Longer recovery periods lead to more time without making a sale, which is detrimental to your overhead and profit projections. The recovery process should be comprehensive, but it should also be as short as possible. Preparing for natural disasters by protecting your inventory now can help you reduce the length of your recovery period so you can get back to serving your customers and making sales.

How to Protect Your Car Dealership From Natural Disasters

Now that you understand the importance of protecting the valuable assets of your car dealership, you need to know how to protect your car dealership from natural disasters. Emergencies are inevitable, so take the following precautions to help you make it through them.

emergency action plan

1. Create an Emergency Action Plan

As you read above, thinking of emergencies with a "when not if" mentality can help you better protect your car dealership from natural disasters. An important way to prepare for these occasions is by creating and implementing an emergency action plan. These plans can help you know what to do the moment an emergency arrives.

Your emergency action plan should contain many of the other tips on this list. Remember to post your plan in an area where your employees can access it and read it at all times. Additionally, you may want to take time to train your employees on the action plan so they're as prepared as possible. Set up your plan so everyone knows what to do before and during an emergency to protect themselves and the dealership's valuable assets.

relocate your inventory

2. Relocate Your Inventory

It may seem like a lot of work, but another way to prepare for an impending natural disaster is to relocate your inventory to a safer location. Try this step in the following ways:

  • Lease a storage facility: Lease a storage facility to give your vehicles a safe place to wait out the inclement weather. This method will spare your vehicles from damage, saving you a lot of money and giving you an easier recovery period.
  • Build a parking garage: If you have room on your property for a parking garage, you may want to consider building one. A well-built parking garage will protect your inventory from hail, floods, and flying debris from strong winds.
  • Perform trial runs: Try relocating your inventory as a test before a tragedy strikes to streamline the process. You want to be ready for the real thing when a severe storm begins brewing on the horizon.
  • Protect keys: Ensure you keep track of each vehicle's keys throughout the relocation process to help with safety and make the entire process easier. 

use a mass communications service to contact employees

3. Gather Employee Contact Information

Protecting your employees and your vehicles is essential in preparing your car dealership for natural disasters. A significant part of this protection is gathering each employee's contact information. Use this information to inform employees of updates throughout the emergency, including the following:

  • Tell employees when they should stay home during an emergency.
  • Inform employees throughout the stages of the emergency.
  • Let employees know when conditions are safe for returning to work.

Use a mass communications service to make contacting your employees an even more manageable task. That way, you can send a single text to every relevant individual.

electrical surges from inclement weather

4. Shut Down All Critical Systems

Electrical surges from inclement weather and power outages can cause severe damage to your electronics and powered equipment. You rely on these critical systems to carry out your daily business tasks, so you should take every precaution to keep them safe during a natural disaster. Do so in the following waves:

  • Unplug electronics and electrical equipment.
  • Store crucial files on backup hard drives or cloud-based storage platforms.
  • Relocate your necessary gear to save them from damage.

Avoid a prolonged recovery period and save money on buying new equipment by taking these measures to preserve your car dealership's valuable technology.

5. Make Sure You Have a Backup Power Source

Your car dealership relies on electricity to operate. From lighting up your showroom and parking lot to operating your computers and processing transactions, you need electricity to run your business. Wide-scale power outages are common side effects of many natural disasters. Be sure to have a backup power source ready to get you up and running when one hits your dealership.

Choose a backup generator that turns on the moment the power grid goes down. Make sure your generator takes a readily available fuel source like gasoline, diesel, or propane you can have delivered to your dealership when you need it. When power outages stop other dealerships in their tracks, you'll be able to have your doors open thanks to your backup power supply.

keep property clean

6. Keep Your Property Clean

Keeping the property of your car dealership clean is a great way to reduce risks and enjoy the greatest insurance benefits possible. Junk piles, vehicle parts, and even fallen trees all pose a threat to your business in the event of a natural disaster. Remove these items for your property to receive the following benefits:

  • Less damage to your property: Loose items around your property can fly through the air or catch on fire during a natural disaster. Remove these items from the premises to lower the risk of damage to your structures and vehicles.
  • More accurate insurance payments: You could receive lower insurance repayments if your insurance company determines that negligence caused some of your property's damage. Clean up before a storm hits and take pictures to prove your area was clean and the damage resulted from the natural disaster.
  • An easier recovery period: A clean auto dealership before a natural disaster could be in better shape once the emergency subsides. You'll enjoy a faster recovery period as you'll have less to clean up after the event.

protection structures keep assets safe

7. Install Commercial Hail Protection Structures

Much of the damage caused to car dealership inventory comes from the sky. Snow, sleet, hail, and the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can take a considerable toll on the well-being of your valuable assets. You can prepare for these scenarios and protect your vehicles by installing commercial hail protection structures in your dealership lot.

These protection structures can play a significant role in keeping your assets safe in the face of inclement weather. When you want to invest in a passive approach to asset protection, commercial shade and protection structures could be the answer.

investing in commercial shade structures

Benefits of Investing in Commercial Shade Structures

Commercial shade structures can benefit your car dealership in ways that may surprise you. Whether your dealership has 10 cars or hundreds, here are some of the ways commercial shade structures can help your business.

1. Stay Operational

You're in business to make a profit, and you can only make money when you're open for business. Natural disasters have the potential to shut your business down, but commercial protection and shade structures can help you stay open for business. Here's how:

  • Fewer surprises: Commercial shade structures can give you an element of preparedness at all times. That way, you always know your vehicles have protection from various forms of extreme weather. Even when a surprise storm hits, you can feel at ease knowing your protection structures are ready for action.
  • Easier crisis management: When a natural disaster looms on the horizon, some businesses enter panic mode. Commercial vehicle protection structures help you stay calm, as they make preparing for the upcoming emergency easier.
  • Faster recovery time: Damaged inventory can put a car dealership out of work for several days or more. Reduce your recovery time by putting protection structures over your vehicles to make getting back to business a faster and easier process.

2. Provide Extra Comfort to Customers

Another benefit of parking shade structures is the extra comfort they can provide your customers. Large blacktop parking lots absorb a lot of sunlight, and temperatures outside and inside your vehicles can get extremely high. This heat can warm up the cars your customers want to take for test drives, as well as their current vehicles waiting in the customer parking area.

Whether they're shopping, parking, or driving, your customers will enjoy the comfort given to them by your parking shade structures. These structures can lower the inside temperature of your vehicles by up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, making a massive difference in your customers' enjoyment when test driving your cars. One of the worst experiences is sitting in a swelteringly hot car, and you can avoid this unpleasant moment with some help from parking shade structures for your auto dealership.

3. Protect Your Vehicles From the Sun's Harmful Rays

UV rays can wreak havoc on the surfaces they contact, from human skin to the paint jobs and interiors of the cars on your auto dealership lot. UV rays can cause discoloration to your vehicles, lowering their value on the market. If the sun is beating down on your parking lot, it's time to invest in vehicle shade structures. 

Vehicle shade structures can stop UV rays in their tracks while letting some light pass through for visibility. This effect allows your customers to have a clear view of the vehicles you're offering while protecting your cars over time from the harmful effects of UV rays. UV ray protection may be another passive benefit of vehicle shade structures, but it's a fantastic way to invest in protecting your inventory.

4. Increase Your Dealership's Security

With so many valuable assets out in the open at all times, you need to take some extra measures to keep your car dealership safe. Invest in new security features with the help of shade and protection structures. These structures can increase your lot's security in the following ways:

  • Lighting: Attach lighting fixtures to your protection structures. Better lighting in your parking lot, including motion-detecting lights, can raise visibility throughout your property to deter criminals from trying anything. These features also help customers and employees navigate the lot safely.
  • Security cameras: You can also add security cameras to your vehicle protection structures. When a criminal spots security cameras on your property, there's a good chance they'll leave your car dealership alone. Cameras provide evidence of who committed a crime, making them a strong deterrent. 
  • Signs: "Keep Out" and "Private Property" signs could be enough to keep people from entering your parking lot after hours. Attach them to your parking shade and protection structures to let people know where your property begins and ends.

5. Increase Your Property's Value

If the time ever came to sell your lot and move to another location, your property could fetch a higher price on the market thanks to the inclusion of shade and protection structures in your parking lot. A wide-open area of blacktop is one thing, but a parking lot with protection structures is quite another.

These structures will raise the value of your dealership because of the many benefits they provide. Whoever uses your space after you will experience greater emergency preparedness and protection for their inventory, so consider these structures as a long-term investment. They provide advantages now, but they can even benefit you when it's time to sell your property.

6. Experience Greater Peace of Mind

You can run and operate your car dealership with more peace of mind knowing your parking shade and protection structures are out there doing what they're meant to do at all times. When heavy snow or hail falls, you'll know your cars are safer. When some of your cars sit under the hot sun for weeks or even months, you can know your shade structures are protecting them from the sun's harmful UV rays.

You can even know you're giving your customers a better experience walking around your parking lot and test driving your vehicles. They can enjoy some shade from the sun and experience a cooler car when test driving. You can rest assured that your customers will have a more enjoyable time shopping at your car dealership.

invest in VPS Commercial

Invest in VPS Commercial Hail Protection Structures for Your Business

Choose VPS commercial protection structures to help you protect your auto dealership's parking lot from natural disasters. We're known as the industry leader in covered parking and asset protection, so you can trust your investment will be worth every dime. When you want to protect your inventory from hail, ultraviolet rays, and excessive heat, we're the ones to call. We even offer custom solutions to fit your needs. If there's a need, there's a VPS solution waiting for you.

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to serving you and helping you better protect your valuable assets.